Why am I writing about BTS today?

Anyone who spends anytime at all on this site knows the focus is mostly on rock music with bits of music-related tech, music industry doings, and pop culture news, thrown in for spice. BTS, the K-pop monsters tick the last two boxes today, hence a story.

In South Korea, it’s required that all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 35 spend anywhere from 18 to 21 months in the military. There have been some exceptions for artists and athletes, but not always. BTS was seen as a shoo-in for this exemption because they contribute a sizeable portion of the country’s GDP through the export of their music.

It’s been confirmed that all seven members will do their mandatory military service in South Korea. Jin, the oldest at 29, will go first and will spend two years in the army beginning when he turns 30 in December. The other six will enroll on a staggered basis that’s still TBD. The plan is for the boy band to reconvene “around 2025.”

This is the biggest artist-going-into-the-army story since Elvis reported for duty on March 24, 1958. His enlistment, coming at the height of his early popularity, had haters saying that this meant the end of rock’n’roll. Nope.

Second–and to underscore how big a deal it will be for BTS to disappear for a couple of years–the group stages a free concert over the weekend in Busan. About 50,000 were in the stadium. Another 10,000 were watching a closed circuit video at the nearby port. And a staggering 50 million viewed the gig online.

Third, this gives me another chance to plug my theory that BTS will live on during the next two years via artificial intelligence. Here’s what I mean.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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